Morgan Chilson is Payson’s track star heading into the state meet next week, ranked No. 1 in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.
And she is part of the 100-meter relay team that recently set a new school record.
But Chilson, a senior, admits the pressure at the top is daunting and worries the stress will rob her of another top finish this year.
While she has competed in the AIA State Track and Field Meet before, she has only taken home the bronze in the 400-meter relay.
“I psych myself out,” she says. “So I try not to think about it and get scared.”
Her technique this year: keep her headphones on, tune out the world and visualize winning.
If Chilson runs as good as she has all season, she should have no trouble pulling out a win. Her personal best in the 100 meters is 12:57 and the 200 meters, 26:42.
She has consistently shaved those times down since joining track in middle school.
Roundup archives show Chilson ran the 100 at Rim Country Middle School in 2009 in 13:32 and the 200 in 28.75.
Ever since she stepped on the track, sprinting has come naturally for Chilson. Maybe it’s in her genes. Her father, star sprinter Ty Chilson, still holds several school records from when he lit up the prep track scene in the mid-1980s.
He encouraged her to start running in middle school.
Growing up on a ranch in Rye, Chilson, 18, said she occasionally ran the back roads, but hadn’t given it much thought until she started beating everyone else.
While winning came easy in middle school, the bigger and faster runners in high school forced Chilson to take her training more seriously.
Working with track coach Jonathan Ball, Chilson’s times continued to drop.
Now ranked No. 1 in two events, Chilson said she is nervous about going into state.
“I have to keep my head in the game,” she said, adding some runners try to psych each other out by saying they have faster times.
“That is why I don’t talk to anyone before a meet.”
One person she does not have to worry about is her father. He has so far refused to race her, citing old age.
It may be just what she needs though to get her confidence up.
After high school, Chilson is planning to enter the nursing field and has already completed her certified nursing assistant training at Gila Community College through the NAVIT program.
She is contemplating completing her nursing degree at GCC or in the Valley.
She says she is happy to stay in Rim Country after graduation where both her and her father’s records will likely stand for years.